It has been two days since the rusty voice of the frail and greying old man announced the sighting of the Ramadan moon. The affirmation of the Chief Imam was all I was waiting for. The dawn to dusk embargo on eating and drinking is in full force. Lines leading to Waakye vendors are short in the morning and extremely long at night. The least said about the crowd converging around Koko sellers in the evening the better.
The month long session of fasting is in its nascent days. Brimming with exuberance, people proclaim how happy they are to be alive at this time. A few weeks ago, the prayer on most lips was “Allahumma Balignaa Ramadaan, Allahumma Balignaa Ramadaan”. O Allah let us witness Ramadan, O Allah let us witness Ramadan. So they counted themselves among the lucky. Lucky enough to witness 30 days of blessings, forgiveness, mercy and salvation.
The place of the fast of Ramadan in a Muslim’s life is very huge. It is one of the five pillars upon which every Muslim’s faith stands. Without it, your Islam is questionable. The 30 days of Ramadan are filled with the magnanimity of Allah. He remains ever gracious, merciful, forgiving and all the 99 attributes ascribed to him. But when the month of Ramadan comes around, his infiniteness is multiplied by a factor of infinity. Maximizing the outpouring of blessings in this month is the most natural thing to do as a Muslim. What better way to achieve this by consciously resolving on what to do and what not to do at the beginning of the month.
For most of us, the only time we make resolutions is at the beginning of the year. On January 1st, we tell ourselves we are going to do things we know very well we cannot stay true to after the three days of whispering it to ourselves or telling the entire world through Facebook. The last time I made a resolution, I jettisoned it in less than a week. How could I possibly hit the gym every day of the week? My innate couch potato attitude was not going to let that happen.
Keeping Ramadan resolutions is just as hard as staying true to the fairy tales we adopt as lifestyle mantra at the beginning of each year. In a bid to grow closer to Allah, we set ambitious marks for ourselves. It is very important to aspire to greater heights in worshipping God. After all, shooting for the stars usually ensures that the lowest you can fall is in the skies, right? But what if the velocity with which you shoot is so weak, you end up barely 10 feet from the ground?
There was a year I told myself I was going to complete a number of recitals of the Quran. 30th Ramadan came and I was nowhere close to that number. In the first few days of the month, it looked like I was well on track but I was burning myself out the whole time. After a couple of days, the Ramadan Slump kicked in (Ramadan Slump is a topic for later discussion in sha Allah). There are a couple of resolutions I have failed to kept, many of which I have lost count.
It will be erroneous on my part to tell you to not make any resolution. These things work differently for everyone. This is the same reason why I never read the generic “5 ways to be rich” kind of books. I think human beings function differently and you cannot prescribe a one size fits all response for every issue. But I do think taking it one step at a time is a very good step.
Do not set a page limit, read as many Surahs (books of the Quran) as your buttocks will allow you in one sitting. The zikr beads (rosary beads) should be in your hands so long as your fingers do not hurt. The supplementary prayers should be said until your feet cannot carry you any longer. That way you do not burn yourself out. Remember, “…Allah does not burden a soul with more than he can take”. Whatsoever you are able to accomplish within your capacity is welcomed by Allah. It’s the quality that matters not the race to meet a set quantity.